Flu season impacting blood donations
Advertising junior Angela Wright gives blood as collections technician Michelle Case organizes the donations Jan. 23, 2013, at the International Center. Students, faculty and East Lansing residents all came out to donate blood. Adam Toolin/The State News
It’s the time of year when roommates give each other the sniffles, and germaphobes go on high alert against any and all viruses. Unfortunately for the American Red Cross, that leads to some problems for the organization, according to Todd Kulman, the communications manager for Red Cross in the Great Lakes area.
“Flu season has been impacting us a little bit,” Kulman said. “It’s been causing a decline in donations.”
Kulman said donations trend downward during cold and flu season because potential donors might opt out of donating if they’re not feeling well. The Red Cross also will give deferments to those who are not feeling well but show up anyway.
There isn’t really anything the Red Cross can do about the situation, he said. They encourage donors to wash their hands, get a good night’s sleep or whatever else they need to do to stay healthy, according to Kulman.
Red Cross also encourages donors to get vaccinated, and stresses to potential donors the vaccine doesn’t affect the viability of the blood at all.
“You can donate the day after getting the (flu) vaccine if you’re symptom free,” he said. “As long as you’re feeling well, you can donate.”
Kulman added that the Red Cross would like donors who aren’t feeling well to find someone to go in their place. It is vital for the organization receive donation numbers similar to those in other times of the year.
“We’re asking them to maybe find someone to go donate in their place,” he said.
Asking a friend to donate blood instead of you might be uncomfortable for some, but as physiology junior Nathan Wilson points out, it’s for a good cause.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Wilson said. “It’s not like it’s a huge time (commitment), and it helps a lot of people. It’s something a lot of people should do.”
Dietetics senior Elisa Vandyke said she wouldn’t have a problem asking someone else to help either, as she has seen the impact of blood donations first-hand. She said her father needing a transfusion after being in a car crash made her realize donating blood is an important act.
“I’ve had family members who needed transfusions, so I know how important it is to donate blood,” she said.
Despite any problems colds and flu might pose, Kulman said the approach doesn’t change in the winter. The Red Cross is going to count on its donations and trust they’ll keep coming.
“We go in thinking positively about our donors,” Kulman said. “Our donors are pretty good folks.”